Utah Arts Review – Utah Opera returns with zany, colorful staging of Rossini’s “Barber”

by Rick Mortensen

A woman on stilts and a dream ballet featuring human-sized chickens were just two of the zany surprises welcoming Utah Opera’s audience Saturday night for its season-opening production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. The extras also included naughty nuns, Napoleonic soldiers throwing confetti, and a recurring chicken and rooster motif that is never explained.

Set designer Shoko Kamburra and costume designer Amanda Seymour created a colorful, carnival-esque world evoking mid-century modern design and 1960s fashion, but deviating enough to be wholly original. Combined with director Michael Shell’s frenetic, broadly comic staging, the production was a joyful pastiche, reminding audience members of a certain age of  Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.

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